Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Dress Ups! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Lausanne, Switzerland was getting all gussied up for Christmas as I was leaving there just before Thanksgiving. On the shores of Lake Geneva, Lausanne is yet another Swiss town I would have liked to spend at least a week exploring, getting to know the ups and downs of its hilly streets, popping in to art galleries, museums and of course fashion hunting!

(They had an unusual snowstorm last month. Rare, because Lausanne is lakeside and with its balmy weather, it usually doesn’t experience snow accumulation. Check it out on Youtube. Those pillars dripping in white lights is the entrance to the Lausanne Palace & Spa–swank!)

I, however, had to head back to New York to jump back in to all things work and domestic. The luxurious trip back on Swiss Business gave me plenty of time to rest up for the crazy Christmas season approaching. What’s better than to spend a day in bed watching movies while charmingly accommodating, impossibly spiffy people provide you with outstanding service! It felt like my seat was my own little ultra-hip apartment. Everything essential was bedside and anything else I needed or wanted was “delivered.” Including Swiss wine and chocolates of course.

Back in New York I approached my clients with a “Holiday House Call” idea; I would put together a couple of fancy outfits using their own wardrobe and accessories to prep for holiday parties. These have been quick visits, and this elf has had a blast playing big-girl dress ups with party clothes. Sequins? Yes. Bobbles and beads? Yes. We channeled Coco, a little Marilyn and some Garbo. I grabbed for silvers and golds and those wonderful jewel tones so fine this time of year. Often, more was better. The Holidays generally aren’t for shy dressers, unless you’re doing that androgynous tux look–always in style, but you must add a red rose, if not to your lapel, then your hair...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Switzerland, Day Trip, Vevey, Montreux

MyStylist Travel Advisory

Were To Go

Vevey! As I mentioned in my last blog, Vevey, Switzerland is an incredibly charming town to wonder round, especially in what is known as the “Old Village.” It is one hour from Geneva’s international airport, accessible by train and bus and perfect for an afternoon of shopping, cheese smelling and tasting or chocolate browsing and buying.

What to do

Ever on the look out for out-of-the-ordinary shops, I found two in the Old Village that should be part of any “fashion” day trip to Vevey. Un Air De Famille, Rue du Conseil 5, is a stylish vagabond’s paradise. The clothes are alternative; almost costume, modern and antique at the same time, touches of whimsy and flavors of “the homemade.” You don’t have to be a fashion hound to appreciate the merchandising. Anyone with a love for antiques or Victorian attics will loose themselves. Expect to discover designers: Myrine & Me, NOA NOA and Ewa iWalla–very cool.

Your next stop should be Balthazar, 32, rue du Lac. The store’s colorful, kid-like pop-art merchandise screams “Come and see!” Proprietor Valerie Jobin lives above the store. Her decidedly cheerful buying choices stand out on a street that sets a more serious fashion tone. It’s fun. Check it out.

What to wear

Considering you are right on the lake (Geneva), dress warmer than you might think. Avoid small pointy heals–cobblestones! And dress comfortably elegant–I threw on a wool shawl, grey cords and a big chunky necklace.

What to eat

See my last blog post for the place we picked. Both restaurant and chocolate shop, Poyet fulfilled my Swiss fantasy of relaxing in a cozy spot near Lake Geneva, coffee and cookie en route to mouth!

What else

This area, encompassing the Swiss towns of Montreux and Vevey, is called the Swiss Riviera for its microclimate. The vegetation is varied; palm trees, pines and pansies occupy the same space. A walking path along the lake connects Montreux and Vevey. Get on it, if even for a short stroll.

Note: Montreux Vevey Tourisme offers the Montreux Riviera Card, a discount card worth investigating.

This time of year the “Montreux Noel” is ringing Christmas bells! Considered the finest Christmas market in Switzerland, chalets erected along the quays and the Grand-Rue are enchantingly decorated to welcome visitors and make them swoon with Christmas nostalgia.

Fellow travel dude, Ramsey Quebein and I discover Vevey.
Follow Ramsey for daily travel tips on Twitter.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Stylish Swiss Old Lady

When I’m older, I’d like to be Swiss. They are stylish bread, the Swiss old lady. She’s got her sturdy shoes; low heals, just heavy enough to withstand cobblestones, but not too clunky, junky. Her hosiery is sensible too, slightly thick for support and warmth. The calf length skirt she wears of a wool blend in an understated grey, camel or hunter, coupled with a cardigan or turtleneck are stylish choices meant to withstand time. She’s not changing her look from season to season, year to year. Then there is the scarf, silk, useful, beautiful.

I saw several of these iconic matrons during my trip to Switzerland last week. They impressed me mostly because they make such an effort to be “put together,” tidy, which is really the first step toward looking and feeling good.

One restaurant slash chocolate store in Vevey, Switzerland called Poyet, seemed to attract a well-dressed set, including my old-lady ideal. I wanted to know everyone’s story. The old man with the teenager, the elderly lady with bright orange hair and lipstick to match, the man with the velvet jacket reading the paper–they all had a tale. What’s more they seemed to be taking time to actually just sit, stare, listen and sip. It was a Tuesday afternoon almost rush hour, but no one was in a hurry.

Unfortunately, I couldn't surreptitiously grab a decent shot of any of these fine old ladies. So picture of the lovely Poyet and its chocolate will have to suffice.

Why not grab a silk scarf, slip into a straight long skirt, low heals and some pearls. Be traditional, worldly and timeless right now...A few suggestions below.

Swiss Matron Look

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I want to sip Lambrusco in Mantua.

Last week I was invited to an Italian Tourism event highlighting the region of Lombardy, it’s food, wine, fashion, art, architecture…You know, all that is yummy, luxurious, creative Italian. The take away for me–visit Mantua.

This provincial Capitol, in the southeast foot of the Lombardy region, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Palazzo Ducale, a labyrinth of churches, piazzas, gardens and porticoes was built over five centuries, from the 13th to the 18th. Visiting it would make a pleasant morning adventure. Followed by picnic procurement at the Farmer’s Market, perhaps a stand-up espresso and some scarpe (shoe) shopping (I’m in Italy, shoe shopping is a must!) and then a nap. Dinner might start with pumkin tortelli, a regional specialty and Lambrusco of course.

The next day I’d hit Mantua’s wine trail (perhaps part of it on horseback or bike), check out the cellars, enjoy merlot, pinot, cabernet sauvignon… In the evening, Opera? The Regoletto festival continues through October. One week left…

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The New Made In Italy

The MSC Flagship Poesia was the venue for an Italian fete Saturday called "Italian Creativity On Board." I went with my pal Cindy Bigras a fellow GoNOMAD writer. She was speaking about Sardinia on behalf of the Italian Tourist board. I was basically working the crowd (largely Italian speaking), eating, drinking and being enticed once again to go to Italy. This time Piedmont was calling, the slopes in particular...

Luncheon was followed by a gorgeously lush fashion show by the acclaimed Italian designer Raffaella Curiel. Although she's been selling her work through Bergdorf's since 1965, this was her first American fashion show. It was divine.

Heading up town via orange Mini Cooper convertible to drinks on the rooftop of the Gansevoort was another welcome, "I love New York" moment. The Italians; they do know how to have a good time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Fall Fashion To Go"

I was given a dreamy assignment to write a fall fashion article for Travelgirl magazine. Obviously, the thrust of the article is what to wear “on the go.” Right down my fashion ally! Art Director Valerie Cassius Kessler did a fab job of laying out the piece and Julie Hoylen of Live In Full Color (see my blog roll) gave us some great color palettes for fall touring. The article should get you inspired to start packing. Travelgirl can be found on newstands: Boarders and Barnes and Noble and in all Delta Crown Rooms.

Below is a snippet from the article...

Boots Rule

Nothing says, “meet the streets” like a great pair of boots. I love the “danger girl” look of a spiky boot, but we’re talking touring here, so go with flat and functional.

• Wear them on the plane to save space in your bag.

• They should be relatively easy to get off and on. For a long plane ride, you’ll want to slip them off without sweating, grunting or elbowing your plane mate.

• Avoid lots of buckles, fringe, folds or stitching (too Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves).

• For travel choose sleek and simple to go everywhere and with everything!

Journey Worthy: Stuart

Weitzman 50/50 Boots

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Keep Calm And Carry On A Scarf

Excerpt from my upcoming Travelgirl article on Style and Travel:

For function and style every journey begins with a scarf (or wrap!).

It’s always better to wrap up in cashmere than a poly airline blanket. My most adored wrap is by Jules Allen and it is Berry pink!

As for silk, perhaps it’s best to purchase a Gucci or Ferragamo scarf while in Italy or Hermes in Paris. It will become a coveted souvenir and immediate heirloom.

Fashion and beauty writer Molly Boxford suggests Echo scarves, “Once I’ve established a theme to my packing, I like to add an Echo scarf to pull together colors or looks.” Reasonably priced, they won’t gouge your trip spending stash.

I’m finding the half-scarf/half sweater numbers out this fall interesting. Wrap London does a few that look hip and cozy. Here's a sneak peak at one from their fall catalog–a great look for any field trip...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Coat, Dad and Stockholm

My Dad liked clothes and he liked to travel. He wasn’t a nut about “dressing.” It came as second nature to him and I think most of the time he probably didn’t think too much about it. He had some nice Brioni suits, a cool gardening/fishing hat and some lovely ties.

He once told a story of leaving a cashmere sports coat at a restaurant in Stockholm, a city he was very fond of. Several years later, he returned to the same restaurant and surprisingly, they still had his coat. For him this said everything there was to say about the Swedes and their fastidiousness, their reliability and organization. Being Italian, and traveling to Italy often, where they have made an art of everything including nonchalance, the buttoned-up Swedes made an impact on my Dad.

He really was a wonderful combination of the two extremes. Yes, easygoing with a casual manner, but also very driven and ambitious.

Stockholm seems to be on the travel radar these days. The recent wedding of Crown Princess Victoria to “commoner” Daniel Westling AND the book, soon-to-be movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson, has made Stockholm fodder for several travel writers/reporters/bloggers. Check out Mary Alice Kelloggs piece in Everett Potters’s Travel Report. It makes you want to go there now, even if you haven't left something behind!

Above photo; Dr. Edward Arquilla (Center)
Early '60s, Dad hadn't quite caught on to the thin ties.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fashion '51

I’ve been working on an interesting project these days; collecting imagery for a potential pilot that takes place in 1951. I’ve been asked to explore fashion in that time period to position the “look” of the show. The first several episodes will take place in both Sicily and Washington DC. So I’ve also had to consider the regional differences between, say, New York and DC and Sicily and Rome.

Researching has brought me to the New York Public Library’s Picture Collection– I know, old school (admittedly, I did some internet hunting too). I wasn’t even sure if the Manhattan branch still had their Picture Collection, but they do and it was a eureka moment for this project. The Picture Collection is a rather large section of the library on 5th and 41st that has cataloged images (known in the industry as “swipe”) into a vast number of subjects. Picture in the Picture Collection would-be or established fashion designers, illustrators, set decorators, photographers and any number of other patrons in search of visuals.

Remarkably, as I’m swimming in this time period, the indomitable Grace Coddington of Vogue did an amazing story on fashion in the 1950s using the fall collections entitled, Magnificent Obsession. Check it out.

I’ve included some of my favorite images for amusement or inspiration. Enjoy.

So that, amongst MANY other things, is what I’ve been up to since I last posted.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cino De Mayo!!

For fashion, celebrate Cino De Mayo and dress bohemian chic! Here's some inspirational photos! All scanned from Amanda Brooks's great style book, I Love Your Style; How to Define and Refine Your Personal Style. This is a good book from the style genre. Worth having in your STYLE library. Got one of those?

For travel check out Max Hartshorne's (my editor from GoNOMAD) award winning story, Ecotourism in Cancun; Wilder than Expected.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Part Two: Peace Pups Dogsledding

It was time to scooter and Tom was going first...

A word about the dog’s need to run: Ken explained that Siberian Huskies are northern transport dogs originally bread to pull sleds and have adapted to extremely cold temperatures. Their recall in not good. If they take off, they may not come back, “This is probably not the dog you’d want to have for a pet and leave the door open.” said Ken. All well and good, but this made me think that maybe we’d loose Tom and the dog and they’d both be hunting for food in the wilderness of Vermont in their own rendition of “Into the Wild.”

During our test drive of the scooters, we could tell that they were very sturdy and easy to handle (comforting). Ken rigged a dog to Tom’s scooter and to his and they were absolutely raring to go! At the same time, the other dogs went crazy barking and caring on; clearly they wanted to go too! Eager to take off, the dogs obeyed Ken’s command and off they went! As they scooted through a big open field, Tom looked liked he was perfectly at ease, sort of like taking his scooter to the commuter train each morning, but with a dog pulling!

Next it was Isabella’s and then my turn. We agreed that the scariest or most challenging part of dog scootering is the moment before the dog takes off. Managing the dog’s need for speed, its direction and actual pulling was easy enough and if you could relax into it, it was great fun. It was the getting ready to go that psyched us out a bit.

The carting is really cool too. Mainly because you can sit back and let Ken handle the dogs, no performance pressure! I was amazed at how far in front of the cart the dogs extend. The kids had only five dogs pulling and yet they seemed to be on a line extending at least eight yards ahead. Imagine those big time mushers with 16 dogs pulling the sled! The whole affair would be about a city block long!

This was indeed a once in a lifetime experience. Being around that many Huskies, learning about their habits and nature, seeing Ken’s expertise in handling the dogs and the gear, and finally having the dogs actually “transport” you, was really something special. Another great thing to do in Stowe, “on the shoulder.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dogsledding by Scooter and Cart!

For us Ken Haggett fit the description of the typical Vermonter. Tom told the kids over dinner the first night of our Stowe vacation that Vermont, “Prides itself on local stuff. It’s the land of the granolas–Birkenstocks seen here.” Every place has its stereotype and I was curious to see if this one would ring true. Ken was the closest we’d come. Not because of granola or Birkenstocks, but because he obviously had a passion for nature–you might call him a (Stowe) mountain man… He is the owner and operator of Peace Pups Dogsledding. With over 20 Siberian Huskies (they live in custom “doggie condos” on his property) for sledding, scootering and skijoring (that’s Nordic skiing with dog pulling), Ken offers an out of the ordinary outdoor adventure. Certainly, one my family had never been on!

Explaining why he started Peace Pups, Ken said, “The whole reason I got into this is to spend time with the dogs. Friends ask, ‘Are you going to get out and have any fun?’ Most runs are fun because I spend time with people and I’m out enjoying the dogs.”

The dogs are transported on the flatbed of Ken’s truck in custom crafted wood cages, worthy of furniture. He brought 20 Huskies for our scooter outing. Their beautiful white faces curiously watched the goings on of Ken and my family preparing for “the ride.” Meanwhile they were barking LOUDLY at other dogs passing by. Their cacophony of barking, and howling increased our adrenalin as the impending scooter ride drew nearer. In fact I was getting so nervous I considered not doing it and my 10 year old was getting darn right scared. Ken’s rule is that you must be at lease 12 to dog scooter. But younger kids can ride in the, fitted for dog mushing, carts.

It was time to scooter and Tom was going first.

(Now there's a cliff hanger...Mush On to my next post for the rest!)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stowe on the Shoulder

Jasmine Bigelow from the Stowe Vermont Area Association warned me that if we came to Stowe in early April we would, dare she say it, be visiting in Mud Season. Mud or not, we wanted to check out spring skiing on the East Coast and to see what this resort town had to offer a family of four. Jasmine assured us that with proper planning, Stowe was a year-round vacation location that could offer some cool stuff for my sometimes-hard-to-please tweeners and husband.

We stayed at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa. The townhouse suite we checked into was perfect, luxurious in fact, with plenty of room for the kids and us. This two bedroom, two story “attached home” was decorated in gold, tan and brown hues, rich fabrics, granite counter tops, marble tiles–really nice design choices. Big fluffy beds, flip a dial fireplaces and flat screens TV’s, produced a krumping* dance from my daughter, a loud banshee scream from my son and meaningful sighs from Tom and me. We really liked our new ski home…

Could we just live here and forget about going back to New York?

Besides the great digs, Stoweflake, the resort, has a lot to do. And during “shoulder season” it works! Here’s some choices for a wet, rainy, icky day (We had two!).

• Spa–a great option for adults (worthy of it’s own blog post, which will come later).

• Indoor pool, outdoor Jacuzzi and gym–my son was in the pool every day. The indoor pool, itself, isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but my 10-year-old loved it! And there is a heated out door pool as well, which has more limited hours but would be a nice diversion with proper planning and weather permitting.

• Racquetball court–this turned out to be a terrific time for Husband and Son who have no idea what they are doing on the court, but were entirely amused anyhow.

• Yoga and fitness classes

Interesting stores just across the street (again, another blog post).

• “Homemade” cookies and coffee in the afternoon, perfect for “a sit down and read” by the fire.

So this is the beginning of several blog post I plan to do on Stowe followed by a full-length article for Do check back to hear more about our adventure “on the shoulder” at Stowe. I have a feeling you’ll want to visit too–any time will do!

*Krumping (for daughter, Isabella) is a crazy, hip, arm, gyrating dance done in second position plea.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Style Tour, Mulberry then Mott

We had three more stops to make on the Style Tour.

debut is a gallery like boutique designed to showcase fashion designers as artists. Curated by owner, Lisa Weiss, debut, feels like you've stepped into an art gallery in the West 20's. It was fun for the group to consider fashion as art. The pieces were more "project runway" than anything else we encountered on the Tour, a bit too artistic (and irreverent) for most of us, but there was an abstract print dress there that I'm still thinking about. By the way, abstract prints, on dresses and shirts where all over the fall runways.

Rebecca Taylor–always a favorite of mine. Welcoming store manager, China, helped the ladies try on several blouses, jackets and pants. The store felt like the day– sunny, fresh, relaxing and cheerful. Taylor was a designer I pulled from often when styling photo shoots for advertising and music industry jobs. Her stuff is eye-catching, wearable and surprisingly comfortable. Her dresses are classic/feminine with a hint of "high fashion." I like it all and several things looked great on the gals.

Lolita Jaca–If you need a little St Barth in your life dip into this store. The seven of us barely fit in this tiny island of a store, but that was the fun of it! They were having an awesome sale (besides extending a special discount to our little group). I couldn't resist a better-than-Pucci print blouse, that I'm just dying to break out for just the right occasion (after that I'll wear it a lot and whenever). If you love colorful prints, simple linen dresses and want to dream of an island vacation, go to this store!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Style Tour, Next Stop, Falco New York City

If you can’t make it to Italy, but can manage to get to lower Lafayette Street in Manhattan, stop by Lafco New York. This beautiful fragrance and luxury “smells” store houses Santa Maria Novella products from Florence.

This is one of (if not) the oldest fragrance (pharmacy) “brand” in the world. Founded by Dominican friars in the early part of the 13th century, the pharmacy began by producing medicines, balms and pomades from herbs grown in the monastic gardens. Eventually word got out about the exceptional quality of the products these friars were producing and happily in 1612, the pharmacy opened to the public.

Today Santa Maria Novella products are distributed worldwide, but selectively so the brand has maintained its pedigree and artistry. There is a fascinating and rich history behind the products and I am barely skimming the surface here. The store on Lafayette has a natural earthy palette with some industrial design influences. It is incredible inviting, almost like walking into a prayerful oasis of lotions and potions.

The Novella products are reminiscent of the Renaissance both in packaging and fragrance–they aren’t fussy or convoluted, rather they incorporate simple herbs and flowers used now and throughout the ages–verbena, magnolia, orange blossom. The other Fafco products are also worth the trip through the huge ironwork doors of the shop, a fitting entrance for this big step from city street to “friars pharmacy.”

If you find yourself in Florence do make the effort to visit the original Farmaceutica de Santa Maria Novell. (Describing that will take another blog post and words along can not do it justice!)

Below: The Pharmacy's neo Gothic main salesroom, Florence, Italy
Photos below and above center: Scott S. Warren from the article "Heaven Scent" at by Mishal Husain
Photo right: Gals on the Style Tour, Falco New York

Monday, March 22, 2010

Style Tour, Nolita NYC

On Friday I had the pleasure of leading a Style Tour through New York City’s Nolita neighborhood. For those of you who don’t know Nolita, it means north of little Italy. It’s an ultra groovy downtown neighborhood chock full of trendy boutiques, quaint eateries and hip pedestrians. The Style Tour was my brainchild and my objective for it was twofold: 1) I wanted to find another way to combine my styling with travel and 2) I wanted to help out the Pelham Art Center with a silent auction item.

Seven women joined the Style Tour, all with a love of fashion and frivolity and in need of a day off. I was expecting it to feel at least a little like work, but honestly I felt like I was shopping with my best friends. Between about 10 and 2 we hit 6 places (including Italian espresso bar La Colombe). I had done some recon work and my chosen boutiques were ready for us! A few stores gifted us with goody bags and others offered welcome discounts to our little group. The weather more than cooperated, so much so that our lunch spot, Delicatessen, swung its doors open creating a street café to see and be seen.

Our first stop was at custom jeans boutique True Boutique. Here, you can find a pair of jeans to your specs (sizes range from 0 to 16) and that fit your…A…challenging parts! AND then the on-site stylist/tailor will alter them for you right there in the shop. We circled back past the store just one hour later and ba-bam, jeans done!

Check back with me in the next few days for a blow by blow of where we went from there.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Padua, A University Town

Back in October I blogged several times about a terrific trip I took to the Veneto region of Italy. The Italian Government Tourist Board hosted the trip and I went to both represent and to write a story for GoNOMAD. We visited some wonderful towns in the Veneto and it was hard to decide just which one made the “stand out” story. In fact they all did! I could have written about Vicenza, the “theatre-city," mecca of Palladian architecture, or fashionable Treviso, of course there is also Venice, which speaks volumes and is a visual paradise. (From the picture above you can see that even an amateur photographer takes pictures like a professional in Venice!) In the end, I settled on Padua, a University town, I’d like to MOVE to! Here is the story.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

South Street Seaport Museum and the SS Normandie Show

South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan makes a great day trip. This re-invented Seaport, now an outdoor shopping, site seeing square, has lots to do for adults and tikes.

Husband and I were down there last week on an terribly rainy night for an exhibition opening at the South Street Seaport Museum. I was asked to write an article for the magazine, Seaport, which accompanied the exhibit. The show, entitled DecoDence: Legendary Interiors and Illustrious Travelers Aboard the SS Normandie, is a gem. Many (almost all) of the artifacts are loaned to the museum by one collector, a Mario J. Pulice. And in one of those small world occurrence, it turns out that Mario was a former work colleague of my husband's. They had a great time getting reacquainted. The show's curator Bill Miller did a marvelous job of celebrating the ship and the period. Step back to the DecoDence of the 30's and see this exhibit!
The article I wrote, The Great Escape–Transatlantic Fashion in the Deco Period, was obviously about fashion in the 1930's. It was a dream assignment for me. I could almost fancy myself a fashion historian and what better period to delve into– Chanel, Vionnet, Schiaparelli, deco's divine design divas!

Besides the Museum, The Seaport has some nice "port side" eateries, and decent shopping. It's a bit touristy, but probably not at this time of year and if it's too cold there are plenty of places to duck into. The Seaport Museum alone is worth the trip downtown. Check it out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fall 2010, Fast Fashion, The Shows and Your Wardrobe

Okay, I was wrong about the weather. While it was rainy and cold here in Cali last week, it is just gorgeous here now. I guess we all spend so much time talking about the weather because it really does make a difference to our psyche. That's why everyone seems to be in a better mood out here–no grumpy sales clerks or deli managers.

It's been snowing in New York and I bet the folks at the Bryant Park fashion shows are slugging it out in the name of all that is chic. There's an article in the WSJ today about designers showing "more wearable" clothes on the runways; good for commerce, not so good for art.

Another article talks about labels trying to circumvent "fast fashion" chain stores from getting knock-off designer looks on their racks before the "real thing" hits the stores. What bugs me is this promotes a false sense of urgency to purchase ASAP–7 months early, in fact. I believe in careful curating of your wardrobe; really thinking about purchases ahead of time, analyzing what will extend or "add to" your wardrobe direction and considering how purchase will enhance a style you want to flirt with.

My advice: Check out the fall shows via the internet. It's fun. Take stock of what you're wearing right now–this winter. Are some pieces wall flowers? Are some getting too much play? Do classics need replacing? Is there something you're dying for? Now, plan for fall and next winter. It's a buyers market as they say in real estate. No need for stupid impulse buys. Trends can be had in almost any price range and designing your wardrobe should be both fun and serious business!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Going back to Cali!

It's mid-winter break for the kids and we'll be spending the week in the O.C. Sadly, the TV show isn't terribly off-base in their depiction of the "Housewives Of," BUT that isn't the whole story. There is so much more to So. Cal than botoxed babes! We plan to do our favorite things:

• Escape this NY cold

• Kids will do Disney, I'm taking a pass on that (perhaps a spa day at Spa Gregorie's with my Mom?)

• Peruse South Coast Plaza, a mall equal to Madison Avenue

• Eat lots of Mexican Food

• Dinner with Travel Gals, Brigitte and Jody– see my story on our trip to Temecula. We'll be planning another.

• Laguna, for yoga on the beach, gilato and seaside shopping.

• Huntington Beach, another food/shop spot (yes, we eat a lot) BJ's Pizookie, that's a pizza/cookie. Can't go back to NY without downing one of those.

• My Mom's pizza. Too bad I don't have a link for that because it's fantastic.

What to wear? Something warm. Yes, it is cold in Cali now. And comfortable. This does not mean Uggs to me, but it seems to for the rest of the world. And Hip. I just turned another year older. I'm hip, dammit.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Paul Frank - Going Back to Cali

When I was about 14 I had a yellow cruiser. This is a low speed, high style bike. Meant for cruising a beach boardwalk, the bike's fat comfortable seat and easy-to-reach handle bars give you a mellow, lay back ride. Walking into The Paul Frank Store in Nolita, NYC brought me back to my cruiser days. It was weird to be in this store on Mulberry street because I associate the brand with all that is California. The label began in a garage in Huntington Beach, CA, very near Irvine, where I grew up. Paul Frank's poppy graphics just make you want to hang five or ten; toes over skateboard, or surfboard, or how about fingers around a La Sirena taco or margarita! The designs are for all ages, although tweens and teens probably feel a little more at ease sporting that silly (but cool) monkey.

I'm planning a Style Tour to Nolita in early spring and I may try to fit The Paul Frank Store into our itinerary. It will still be cold and it might be a great way to dive into sunny California (if even for a moment)!

Can you tell I'm already tired of winter...?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

SmartWool; Happy and Warm

Practical fashion–sometimes it’s hard to come by. While staying with friends at Stratton Mt. over MLK weekend, I ran across an “outdoor” clothing brand called SmartWool. The company is over ten years old but it was new to me. Jan, my host, was wearing some SmartWool Cindy Lu Who type striped leggings and socks. They were turquoise and grey and I thought they were terrifically fun, funny and fashionable. Jan is an ubber workout maven. She does multiple triathlon races and strenuous outdoor vacations–she knows good gear. She also hails from the fashion industry and as a creative director she appreciates good design.

When I checked out their site, SmartWool says it was, “born on the simple belief: keeping feet comfortable on the slopes.” My feet are always cold. I need these socks! Apparently lots of thought, study and experimenting went in to developing “smart wool.” Wool, that is soft, cozy and warm. Anyone who has kids will know how whiny they can get wearing itchy wool. (That goes for adults too, of course.) I like the happy patterns and colors they have. The fit looked great and the testimonial, Jan’s and others said SmartWool gets the job done; You stay warm and look cool at the same time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

White House I Black Market, Cheerful Spring Video

This is so very happy. The styling and photography is outstanding, the casting perfect, the music amusing. You will smile. Enjoy.

How much is too much?

Recently I was hired to be the stylist commenting on Hue hosiery's Facebook page. I'm looking forward to talking about legwear fashion and keeping fans informed on what is happening with Hue. We plan to have give-aways, product announcements, designer updates and easy, chatty conversation about style, fashion, and in particular, legwear.

In doing the research about what is being said "out there" in web land about Hue, I feel like I'm maneuvering through a jungle of information. How much is too much? With the gazillion web sites and blogs commenting on fashion, how do you know if you're getting to the quality writing and reporting? I ran across the site, Alltop, that simply catalogs what they decided are "the best of," but that is very objective, isn't it? Honestly, I tend to fall back on the established reporting generated through trusted newspapers and periodicals. Perhaps I'm old fashioned (I'm sure no stylist should ever admit that!) but with few exceptions, there is a lot of what I call "clutter blogs" out there, messy, busy, confusing. Ironic, since fashion is suppose to be about good taste! I would say this is less so with travel blogs, but to be fair I haven't spent quite as much time researching. Don't get me wrong though, I'm still checking in with some favorite travel and style blogs. I think it is a matter of archiving and driving to what works for you, it takes time, but the internet has something for everyone!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stratton Mountain Just Got Cooler

It’s always fun to see a celebrity when you’re out and about. Suddenly your grocery store gets way cooler, the restaurant you’re at becomes “the place to be” or that boutique you popped into is now tres fab. This past weekend we were skiing at Stratton Mountain and we saw Nina Garcia. She’s the savvy judge on Project Runway, formerly on Bravo, now it’s on Lifetime. Credit for spotting her in the base lodge amongst the throngs, goes to Jan Liverance, a Project Runway devotee, my friend, and Creative Director of At Peace Media. Jan and I managed to rubber neck in Nina’s direction in an effort to fully check her out unobtrusively, well sort of… My daughter kept staring trying to figure out whom I was whispering/mouthing about almost ruining our cover.

Nina was sporting (and I know you care) a mat silver Bogner jacket with black stretch pants that, we think, tucked into her boots. It’s silly but of course Stratton Mountain and skiing Vermont became that much cooler after seeing Nina! Jan has been skiiing at Stratton since the early 80s when the Stratton Mountain Boys, aka, the Austrian ski instructors, provided live musical entertainment on weekends in the bar of the base lounge! Jan and her partner were great guides to this rather large size (by east coast standards) mountain. Having a guide to “introduce” you to the mountain alleviates the stress you feel in trying to navigate your way through what could potentially be very scary terrain, terrifying yourself and your family!

I’m told that Martin Luther King weekend is the busiest ski weekend of the winter. Stratton was packed but its high speed, multi seat lifts did the job of moving the crowd up the mountain fairly quickly. While there were a few bottlenecks as runs converged, several times during the weekend we found ourselves alone on a run. If they remake the song, “These are a few of my favorite things,” to “These are a few of my favorite things–skiing,” being alone (with your group) on a run should be in the chorus. The rest of the song should about the romance of winter recreating at its best; the great outdoors, plenty of snow, comfortable temperature, beautiful views, sounds of swishing and laughter and sipping hot cocoa.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Momma’s Got a Brand New Vest!

Actually it’s not really new. I bought it in Verona, Italy this past October and I’ve been wearing it to death, but its not dying, in fact this little faux fur friend is staying in shape and in style.

Most of my travel colleagues where taking the prerequisite visit to Juliet’s balcony which can be found in Verona. I had already seen it, twice! So I opted to drop into Upim the Italian equivalent of Target, without so many house wares, and more fashionable fashion. That is where I grabbed my favorite fall addition that goes with everything!

We’ve had a cold snap here and the vest works well under most of my coats. Ranging from shades of cream to dark brown, it goes with brown, grey, black, tan, light pink and today I wore it with bright red cords and a charcoal turtleneck. It reminds me of Italian street chic and makes smile.

Upim (Unico Prezzo Italiano Milano) is an Italian institution with well over 300 stores. Founded in 1928 it is partly franchise owned and only exists in Italy. I had about fifteen minutes to shop and managed to get the vest, a grey knit poncho/shrug for a friend, and some batteries. The store in Verona, just around the corner from Juliet’s balcony, is cleanly designed. One a quick look on the ground floor and I instantly knew where “my stuff” could be found and I moved in for the kill. And the kill wasn’t too costly, so it didn’t “kill” me!

To me going to Italy without going to Upim, is like going to Italy without eating gelato!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Skiing With The Fam.

We spent the last several days in the Poconos skiing Shawnee Mountain. I’m sure most seasoned skier are not too impressed, thinking something like, “big woop, Cath,” but let me tell you it was a very doable mountain for beginning skiers, which my husband, daughter and son are. I’ve been wanting to write a story about skiing at a big, challenging, mega ski resort out west and how it caters to beginning skiers as well as intermediate/advanced, but that hasn’t materialized, so I did what most do when introducing their family to skiing–start small, low and slow–small mountain, low elevation (not steep), and go slow.

Shawnee is small, contained and easy to navigate. All ten lifts have beginner runs down. We didn’t try their ski school but it looked well organized, especially the Ski Wee program that is ranked nationally. The lessons I saw in progress while on the mountain looked skill building and uncrowned even though it was vacation week. The lodge is nothing fancy, central fireplace, Formica picnic bench tables, and typical fast food. We liked our onion

rings enough to fight over them, however. Always “watching” the ski funds, we brought our lunch the second and third day and I would recommend families do the same, perhaps augmenting their “basket” with some fried fair from the snack bar.

One very important tip: Get there early. The lifts open at 8am and at that time there are no lines to purchase tickets, rent equipment or get on lifts. You can get yourself situated with a locker (Although many people just left stuff on tables and shelves.) and there is plenty of room to put on those gosh darn Frankenstein boots! After 11am the lines looked insufferable.